Low-Cost Cable Migration To IPTVis Now a Reality
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Low-Cost Cable Migration To IPTVis Now a Reality

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Low-Cost Cable Migration To IPTVis Now a Reality Low-Cost Cable Migration To IPTVis Now a Reality Document Transcript

  • Published December 2007 For More News from ScreenPlays click here>> Low-Cost Cable Migration To IPTVis Now a Reality Downloadable, Highly Flexible Security, Content Portability and Other Advantages Using Legacy Infrastructure Ease Operators’ Efforts to Transform Consumer Experience By Steve ChriStian, viCe PreSident, Marketing, veriMatrix A s cable operators confront a growing need to augment their TV ser- vices with Internet Protocol-based video streams they can turn to a new solution that delivers the security and applications benefits of IP without incurring next-generation technology costs. Cable operators, whether large or small, have much to gain by supporting an incremen- tal introduction of IPTV streams as part of their digital service offerings. They not only can address consumer demand for content portability and a richer, more varied viewing experi- ence; they can cost-effectively solve many issues related to delivery of ever more content over their existing infrastructures. Security flexibility is an especially important consideration arguing for migration to IPTV. The IP-based Video Content Authority System (VCAS) provided by Verimatrix, for example, can leverage IP technology to deliver policy- and encryption-based protection to content wherever it is accessed by end users while meeting FCC requirements for decoupled secu- rity in the DCAS (Downloadable Conditional Access System) mode that cable operators are asking for but have not been able to obtain yet. But the absence of a cost-effective means by which operators can begin to migrate to IP-based television service has impeded their ability to exploit these benefits. As a result, operators have been focusing on introducing set-top and network refinements that would leverage the long-standing MPEG-2 set-top base and transport system to accommodate new service demands without capitalizing on the IPTV advantages. Fortunately, the IPTV migration barrier has now been overcome with the launch of a solution supporting incremental implementation of IPTV over the existing DOCSIS (Data over Cable Service Interface Specifications) infrastructure. Verimatrix, in partnership with GoBackTV, is providing full equipment and services support for an integrated solution mar- rying the globally deployed VCAS platform with GoBackTV’s CMTS (Cable Modem Termi- nation System) Bypass system (also known as “DOCSIS Bypass”), which allows operators Page 1 Copyright 2008 Broadband Information Resources
  • For More News from ScreenPlays click here>> to use DOCSIS 1.1/2.0 modem technology in conjunction with low-cost IPTV MPEG-2/ MPEG-4 set-top boxes. VCAS for Cable IPTV thus opens a way for cable operators to begin exploiting the uni- versally deployed IP technology base to their own advantage in the TV and converged service domains without waiting for emerging DOCSIS 3.0 products. This is strategically important to the cable industry for many reasons. Several market developments suggest that leveraging the existing DOCSIS base to incrementally build a market for IP video services would produce dividends for cable opera- tors. And there are also cable infrastructure-related benefits addressing operators’ needs to deliver greater volumes of niche programming, including on-demand options and HDTV. Moreover, in response to FCC rules requiring decoupling of the security and service layers, cable operators are looking for a standards-based downloadable security system that low- ers the costs of compliance, which so far has eluded the industry. The Market Case for Cable IPTV Where market trends are concerned, research has shown a growing public appetite for content portability across multiple devices inside and outside the home. There’s even a strong yen for access to Web-based content via the TV, as evidenced in recent research conducted by iSuppli Corp. Sixty-one percent of respondents to the firm’s first-quarter 2007 consumer-demand survey said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they wanted the abil- ity to network the Internet to their televisions. Among cable operators, the portability option that has drawn the most attention is the path from the TV to the PC, driven by the fact that a growing portion of the population has become accustomed to accessing video entertainment on PCs. But these viewers are also using laptops and handheld devices like the iTunes video player to access entertainment beyond the reach of fixed cable plant, and they’re accustomed to a different kind of enter- tainment experience compared to what people normally get from viewing TV. Such devel- opments, implying the need for wireless distribution of services and Web-to-TV access, raise the bar on what must be done to meet the true portability requirements of the market, whether the in-home content flow is from or to the set-top. Indeed, there is nothing more vital to success in the fast-moving video marketplace than the ability to accommodate the entertainment expectations of young people as they build families and bring their tastes to bear on the TV market. In this emerging marketplace users don’t view the living room, the office and the personal laptop space as mutually exclusive viewing domains. TV must be more like what they’re accustomed to with Web search- based, user-friendly accessibility to vast amounts of content, but it must be easier to use and enjoy communally than is the case with PCs. Within cable and across the broadcast television arena everyone has an interest in not losing these eyeballs, which is why the major networks have flocked to delivering TV pro- gramming to a laptop market. And with the emergence of this “over-the-top” phenomenon, Web-based content providers of all types are anxious to breach the barriers to the TV set, opening opportunities for deal-making across the Internet-cable TV divide. Page 2 Copyright 2008 Broadband Information Resources
  • For More News from ScreenPlays click here>> Of all ways explored so far, the most obvious and cost-effective approach to achieving an open-ended path to portability is to leverage the common base of IP technology that provides points of interconnection into every type of device across every type of network. Of course, this can only be done if there is a proven means of securing such content that has the endorsement of content owners. Owing to the rapid spread of IP content protec- tion across the world, the Verimatrix VCAS cable solution has already gained the support of motion picture studios, broadcast networks, cable programmers and other content sources as a proven means of providing secured portability in the marketplace. This ability to leverage IP-based protection technology makes it possible to secure all content as required in each distribution stream while supporting interconnectivity of all devices to that content. This is crucial to cable operators’ opportunities where IPTV is concerned. The IPTV stream the cable operator provides as a service to customers can be Web-like or not, but, either way, it is under the complete control of the cable operator, just like any other TV service. Yet it is also part of the IP traffic flow serving customers wherever they are on whatever devices they happen to be in an environment where each slice of content is governed by the business rules conveyed via the Verimatrix VCAS. The Operations Case for Cable IPTV As ever more demand-driven content streams enter the digital TV mix, the issue for cable operators is whether it makes sense to remain on the path to all-digital that depends entirely on legacy MPEG-2 TV technology or whether they should open a path to IP that will begin delivering the benefits of IP-based programming to the time-shifting, on-the-move consumer. Over and above the market drivers, certain operational considerations make an even stronger case for cable IPTV. One such factor is the growing proportion of unicast, personalized service that opera- tors will be delivering over their networks, especially as “Prime time on my time,” becomes the market mantra. IP video used in conjunction with CMTS Bypass technology to deliver unicast programming over DOCSIS streams is far less expensive than solutions designed to accommodate MPEG-2 transport such as switched digital and node splitting. Moreover, CMTS Bypass provides a way to avoid the DOCSIS scaling issues that come with adding ever more unicast via SDV. Operators using the VCAS for Cable IPTV solution can continually add unicast capacity through allocation of more QAM channels to deliver on-demand service across the entire service area without incurring major plant expendi- tures. This migration strategy also supports an incremental movement of analog channels to digital IPTV, thereby freeing up bandwidth for HDTV. There are other important operational benefits as well. By migrating to IP operators expand their options to employ best-of-breed solutions. In the case of security, this means being able to move beyond restrictions on set-top and other equipment options imposed by the traditional conditional access duopoly. With implementation of Verimatrix VCAS security operators can tap a vast global supply of low-cost IPTV set-tops employing system-on-a- chip processors. And, as previously mentioned, the downloadable and standards-based attributes of VCAS provide cable operators the DCAS solution they need to cost-effectively implement FCC requirements for decoupled security. Page 3 Copyright 2008 Broadband Information Resources View slide
  • For More News from ScreenPlays click here>> The move to IPTV also allows operators to exploit the bandwidth savings of MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding, insofar as the set-tops deployed to handle IPTV streams are compatible with AVC as well as MPEG-2. Thus VCAS for Cable IPTV opens a way for operators to expand HDTV content at low bandwidth rates utilizing advanced compression. Moreover, the use of MPEG-4 for the video stream simplifies extension of services to other IP-enabled devices that employ MPEG-4 extensions, such as mobile. Another important benefit of VCAS for Cable IPTV exists for those operators in Tier 2 and 3 markets who are delivering TV services over cable plant in some areas and over DSL wireline plant in others. By extending IPTV to cable-served areas the operator avoids duplicating headend and other distribution components. CMTS Bypass The GoBackTV CMTS Bypass component of the VCAS Cable IPTV solution consists of the following hardware elements: n A GigaQAM 3000 edgeQAM (quadrature amplitude modulator), multiplexer and DOC- SIS Encapsulator which serve to place the IP stream onto an RF channel and to wrap the IP packets in the DOCSIS frames that allow the service stream to be distributed to standard cable modems. These edgeQAMs can deliver any mix of DOCSIS and traditional MPEG-2 video, even within a single channel. n A CMTS Bypass controller, which provides DOCSIS timing and control information to up to eight GigaQAMs, representing up to 192 QAM channels. n The RetroVue Application Server, which manages the entire system of edgeQAMs and CMTS Bypass controllers, including dynamic scheduling of video streams and edgeQAM resources, system monitoring and data collection and dashboard interface-based element management and configuration. For each VCAS Cable IPTV subscriber operators will provide a very small wall-mount- able cable modem to interface with the TV. And the operator will have the opportunity to choose from over 70 models of VCAS-compatible IPTV set-tops to provide the connecting link to the TV. Verimatrix makes it easy for operators to implement VCAS for Cable IPTV, which is compatible with EuroDOCSIS as well as the U.S. version, by supplying full turnkey support for the platform. Along with already completed integration with the CMTS Bypass solution and with IPTV set-tops, the company provides installation, training and ongoing service support on a global basis. The Security Advantage The security benefits associated with VCAS, including comprehensive content security, digital watermarking and other capabilities essential to future-proofing cable’s IP migration, are unparalleled in the market. Especially notable among the additional capabilities is the ViewRight PC Player, a downloadable client which is the only independently audited secure PC player designed to enable rendering of premium content on a PC. Page 4 Copyright 2008 Broadband Information Resources View slide
  • For More News from ScreenPlays click here>> The VCAS architecture employs a sophisticated approach to key generation and man- agement, supporting best-of-breed AES and RC4 algorithms for real-time encryption of broadcast streams and offline encryption for on-demand video. All content is encrypted on a packet-by-packet basis and is maintained in an encrypted state throughout distribution and storage until the point of playback in authorized set-tops, PCs and other client devices. Efficient use of the various protection components of VCAS across all IPTV streams and devices is made possible through the Content Security Manager server, which contains all the VCAS security component servers necessary to support authentication, key distribution and user control. The server components and the associated key store database can be distributed across physical machine clusters to assure scalability for the anticipated number of network subscribers. As a downloadable software-based platform, VCAS provides maximum flexibility yet achieves validation as a solution that matches or surpasses the security provided by pro- prietary hardware-based systems. A recent independent audit by Telcordia Labs, compre- hensively analyzing the entire VCAS system architecture, confirmed there were no security exposures in the VCAS system and reported that “the intended and achieved security goals are essentially the best possible given the state of the art.” Moving Forward with IPTV Given the fast-paced changes in how consumers access video entertainment, cable op- erators who move forward with an IP-based TV strategy will be well positioned to lead the market in bringing next-generation services to the public. VCAS for Cable IPTV provides the means through the CMTS Bypass mode of DOCSIS-compatible distribution for opera- tors to act in the near term without incurring excessive costs. The flexibility to incrementally introduce IPTV streams this way gives operators ample opportunity to test market response to various new service concepts, user interfaces and modes of navigating content. This pay-as-you-go approach ensures that spending levels will be matched to consumer demand. No one knows for sure what will resonate with consumers in the way of new niche ser- vices, Web-to-TV content, on-demand services, quantity of HDTV options, degrees of interactivity and addressable advertising. Cable IPTV delivered via the Verimatrix solution is the lowest cost mode of discovering what consumers want. And it’s the lowest cost mode of keeping up with those needs as they expand. ■ Page 5 Copyright 2008 Broadband Information Resources